For the next portion of the trip we hired a car from an unassuming location in the north of Malmö and took a leisurely drive up the E6 to Gothenburg and little did I know what truly awaited there.
The main reason it was a leisurely drive is the opening hours that Liseberg usually operate under. It’s quite common for the gates to be thrown wide well into the afternoon, as late as 15:00 and this is something I have great respect for. No early morning starts when you’ve just been up til midnight at the previous park. To make up for it, the park is regularly open as late as 23:00 giving plenty of opportunity for night rides, atmosphere and, being another city park, is perfectly set up for locals to casually come and spend an evening full of delights. If I thought living near Tivoli would be life-consuming, then residing in Gothenburg would be absolutely living the dream.
After parking at the hotel, it was a quick and easy ride on the tram to get to the entrance.
There are usually great deals on the park website if you book a visit in advance. I had opted for the 2 day wristband which comes with 3 free timeslotted fastrack tickets for the major attractions of your choice, for both days, so before knowing how good the park was in terms of operations I was already extemely comfortable knowing that there would be ample time to enjoy everything. This was an understatement.
The visit began with my first experience on an Intamin ‘prefab’ wooden coaster. There are only 4 in the world and Balder is the smallest of these, but that doesn’t hold it back at all. Strangely the station is full of quirky theme tunes such as The Simpsons and the Imperial March from Star Wars. This is topped off by an endearing horn upon dispatch.
The train takes the lift hill with surprising speed and smoothness, builds up some further momentum in the turnaround and then violently hurtles into a deceivingly steep drop for which sitting in the back row is pure carnage.
The sole feature that this ride type offers is a bucket load of airtime, packing every opportunity in the layout with hills that kick you well out of the seat. On the first few goes, I found this incredible as it was beyond anything I had experienced before.
Over time the method of execution started to become a little jarring. The corners stood out as being very repetitive, purely designed to line you up for the next straight and I soon found myself anticipating each and every moment before it arrived, gradually weakening the impact.
Still a fantastic ride, but I’m clearly starting to get fussy.
As though part of a 2 for 1 deal, another Intamin sits just next door, this time in the form of a Hydraulic Launch coaster.
After being told to ‘place your head against the headrest’ by an amusingly nonchalant announcement, the train fires out of the station into a tophat at a slightly underwhelming speed of ~46Mph (compared with the same ride type in the form of something like Stealth, which nearly doubles that and in a shorter amount of time). Crucially though, Kanonen has much more of a layout to offer, so how does this fare?
Unfortunately not well. Something about this train and restraint design, which are generally used to perform record breaking feats, makes each of the comparatively tiny elements here ride with a certain awkwardness. The result isn’t a bad coaster by any means, it just left a lot to be desired.
Also down in this area is the rapids ride, Kållerado. I admire these most when they have both peril and character and this version was done very well. I had a particularly entertaining episode where one of the boats in front of us was stranded, unrelentingly being pushed against a wall by a wave machine and continuously being soaked by a nearby geyser. The boat we were in just decided to go for the overtake and sailed straight past, while the other guests watched helplessly, clearly distressed. I didn’t even know that could happen, but I love it.
It was time to head up towards the hill that spans the western side of the park, an area that was about to become my favourite place on earth.
At the base of this hill is the station for a Zierer/Schwarzkopf/BHS (it’s complicated) family coaster, perhaps the best ‘family coaster’ out there. The operations in themselves are a sight to behold here, as the ride can run up to 5 trains at the same time using a double length station (which is decorated like an actual train station) and various block sections throughout the expansive layout.
Once on board, a ridiculous 150ft climb takes you to the top of the hill, before unleashing the potential.
The ride goes on forever, working its way down the hill while interacting with both the landscape and several of the other surrounding rides along the way. With forceful ground hugging turns, sharp changes of direction and significant airtime moments, the lengthy experience is nothing short of incredible.
Even having had a taste of what this park landscape could provide, nothing could have prepared me for the Mack Launch coaster that sits at the top of the hill. Helix completely redefined the rollercoaster as I know it and instantly became, by far, the best ride I had ever experienced.
The words in a trip report can’t really do it justice, though I did make an attempt to outline the reasons for this claim here.
Nestled between these two masterpieces is Uppswinget, the S&S Screamin’ Swing and this is where the magic happens. It was already one of my favourite flat ride types for the freedom of restraints and sensation of falling out of your seat, but the way this installation swings between Helix and out over the edge of a cliff above the triple spiral of Lisebergbanen, with trains of each ride regularly whizzing past provides nothing short of pure joy for me.
From this very same spot, you can appreciate the height of Atmosfear, the Intamin drop tower. The ride offers unrivalled views of the surrounding city along with a very sustained and satisfying drop sequence.
At the far end of the best hill in the world sits the unassuming Flume Ride. A tranquil series of lifts and meandering sections gradually take you up to the top, passing several other favourites in worryingly close proximity along the way. When the first drop is finally unleashed, it becomes a truly spectacular log flume, kicking you out of your seat not once, not twice, but three times consecutively in an endless barrage of chaos and insanity. The water ride game here is really top notch.
If there’s one criticism I could stretch to for Liseberg it would be the lack of dark rides to round off the otherwise amazing collection of attractions. The only offering is Sagoslottet, a fairy tale castle with suspended flying boat vehicles passing through several well known scenes. Although decent, it doesn’t inspire the desire for multiple laps like most of the rest of the park.
There are two other coasters in the park to keep the younger guests (and me) happy. Rabalder is a Zierer Force Two that sits in the shadows of some of the greatest rides on earth and Stampbanan is a questionably small Preston & Barbieri that blends into it’s area rather nicely.
The queues had been kind to us all day, by means of the highly capable staff and procedures, so the fasttrack tickets I had acquired for free were mostly used out of principle rather than necessity. In the booking process I had used them to secure night rides on the major coasters and as darkness enveloped the park, like Tivoli Gardens, the place really started to feel special.
The night rides were, of course, life changing. The final airtime hill on Helix facing out towards the city will forever remain etched in my mind as one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever encountered.
The best part of all? We got to do it all again the following day.
I don’t think I could ever tire of Liseberg and due to the raw happiness it instilled in me, I decided it was time to take this hobby a lot further than I had ever anticipated before.